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Ohio’s Maci Watrous #20 digs during Ohio’s match against Kent State in The Convo on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Ohio won three sets to two.

Volleyball: Tria McLean's new setting style lifts Ohio in 3-2 win over Kent State

Ohio began the season by experimenting with a 6-2 offense, but things have changed. It has since returned to using a single setter, and that shift proved successful on Wednesday in Ohio’s 3-2 win over Kent State.

The change in strategy allowed the Bobcats to put more emphasis on defensive looks. They are able to sub in more and it eliminates the number of people communicating to hitters. 

“It was just the right move for our group at that time,” Ohio coach Geoff Carlston said.

Ohio has relied on sophomore Tria McLean to take over the role of full-time setter in the past few series. Before Ohio's match against Buffalo on Oct. 15, McLean had not set a full game by herself since last season.

“It’s a lot different being on the court the whole time,” McLean said. “It took a little bit of adjusting.”

The setter is more often than not one of the few individuals on the court who aren’t subject to substitutions due to their role as court communicators. If the hitter does not adjust to the setter, it can hinder a team’s offensive capabilities. 

The adjustment was well worth it for McLean, however. She recorded a career-high 55 assists against Kent State, besting her previous career-high of 52 which she earned against Northern Kentucky on Aug. 28. 

McLean’s success didn’t come out of the blue. Her previous performance in Ohio's series against Buffalo earned her MAC East Setter of the Week honors — her first-ever. 

The sophomore’s recent success developed out of the newfound aggression she implemented in her approach. McLean relies on reading the other side of the court before the ball reaches her hands. From there, she focuses on getting her feet to the ball and anticipating the pass. Her technique requires that she be agile, however. If McLean isn’t quick enough on her approach, the ball does not get set toward a hitter but instead the ball will fly without intent.  

McLean also made slight modifications in how she distributes the ball. Carlston encouraged McLean to begin jump-setting the ball in order to help her location. This helps her not only play more aggressively but also makes her more difficult to read for opponents.  

This shift has proven its worth for McLean. Her performance against Kent State proved to Ohio that the shift was necessary.

As Ohio’s lone setter, McLean is now responsible for being the active communicator on the court. The ball must pass through her before being distributed to the hitters. McLean has to rely on her sideline to help her see things that she may not notice while on the court. 

“My teammates have been doing a really good job of telling me what they see when I’m on the court the whole time,” McLean said. 

McLean’s setting lifted the Bobcats up in their victory against the Golden Flashes. If McLean’s new shift in style aided in that win, she may be able to help the Bobcats find stable ground through the final month of their regular season. 


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